When adventurous, creative, and energetic minds from different fields come together, exciting things can happen. Such is the case with the collaborative team behind AG23 zine. Richard Elder, president of a survival clothing company, joined forces with photographer and creative pro, Dan Milnor to launch a stunning zine featuring original work by artists, designers, and writers from around the world. Richard talked us through the concept, creative process, and future plans for this project, and why Blurb’s Large Order Services was right for the job.
1. Where did the idea or inspiration for AG23 come from?
AG23 was a true collaboration between myself and Dan Milnor. Beyond, as a brand, is defined as politically centrist. I wanted to build a project that was unconstrained by politics and brought people together from different points of view. Dan was on board and provided an amazing point of view based on his experience and energy.
2. How did you decide which pieces of work to include in this first edition?
The first issue was special, but I have to be honest. We are just getting this off the ground, so we leaned almost exclusively on Dan’s network. He is tied into an amazing group of creatives from all over the world. These are the people that were brave enough to be the first contributors to this unique project.
3. In a digital age, why did you decide to produce a print zine?
Well, honestly, AG23 is both. Remember, our print material expands out to a micro-site and provides infinite possibilities. I believe that print, to be effective, must be a fusion with the web going forward. True interactivity allowing for people to digest as they want is our goal.
AG23 image credit: Michael Lundgren
4. Why did you decide to print AG23 with Blurb’s Large Order Services team and how did they help bring your project to life?
The plan was always to use Blurb’s Large Order Services team. They have the matte cover we were looking for and the print run was always planned at 2000 per issue. That, and Dan’s time, energy, and experience are the pieces Blurb provides to the collaboration.
5. How did you decide on the size, format, and paper type for this project? What factors did you consider when making these decisions?
The intent was always to make it a trade journal, so it could be a “non-precious” item that people throw in their bags and take notes on. Tactile and consumable. The paper had to have weight and take ink in the manner we wanted as the art is truly important. I’m very happy with Issue One and how it turned out.
6. What is the best thing about collaborating on creative projects? What are some of the challenges?
This question is easy. All of my projects are creative projects so I know of no other way to do things. If it isn’t a creative approach, it simply doesn’t resonate. The challenges vary by project. For AG23, it was learning the professional photography and art community. There was a lot of mistrust between possible contributors and our concept because they have been burned by businesses in the past. It is much easier to get buy-in now that we are through the first issue and people see that we are doing exactly what we said we would do. In short, we seek to leave everyone better than we found them in so many ways.
7. How will you be marketing and promoting AG23?
AG23 will be marketed in various ways. I treat the effort as a separate brand from BEYOND (as a sub actually), and allow AG23 to be a sponsor in our many yearly events. It has the micro-site and will have Instagram pretty quickly. There are also plans for a newsletter and we are seeding the first issue to “taste-makers” in various communities/industries. Dan and I will allow the effort to grow organically past this as it isn’t for everyone. Our tribe will find their way there and we will celebrate them.
8. Where does your team look for and find creative inspiration?
Wow, everywhere. Anyone who knows Dan knows he is a voracious reader and always on the move. I travel every week and find inspiration in the funniest places. It all starts with people for me. And, I guess, looking to history to find inspiration more often than not. All of this ground has been walked on, it is just our turn to do so.
9. Are there plans for a second edition? If so, will you do anything differently?
Absolutely. We are budgeted for two more issues this year. I hope to grow it to a quarterly effort. As for different, we have no rules. That was rule #1. So, heck yeah, every one of these issues will be unique and provide something special. What that will be . . . I couldn’t begin to tell you.
10. What advice would you give someone looking to start their own collaborative project?
Pick a goal and don’t quit. That seems to be the difference between the doers and the talkers. As well, only positive energy can be used to build something. Cut out the negativity the second it is identified and get on with creating.
Got an idea for a magazine project of your own? Connect with colleagues or friends in your creative community, and start collaborating!